A BI Revolution: Taking the First Steps to Data Democratization

The democratization of data has been a hot topic for a while — and it’s finally here. Business intelligence (BI) no longer rests solely in the hands (and minds) of IT. Today, all end users, from salespeople to marketers, can have easy access to data and tools that improve their daily decision-making. Cloud BI tools promise an unprecedented level of self-sufficiency to more or less an entire organization. The promise of easy access to data is certainly achievable today. However, despite the “democratization” of BI, many organizations have yet to realize the benefits; organizations are not leveraging BI tools to unlock easy access to data that is technically very possible. In fact, Gartner surveys reveal that 70% of potential BI users in an organization fail to adopt CIO-sponsored analytics tools. With 71% of companies planning to increase their analytics budgets in 2016, it is imperative that users adopt new analytics tools and make sure that investment doesn’t go to waste. If you’re not ready to implement cloud BI tools like Salesforce Wave Analytics across your entire organization, consider a Proof-of-Concept trial to prove value. Democratization of data is a result of tools and capabilities that are incredibly flexible and readily available. Organizations are no longer locked into massive requirements gatherings before undertaking an analytics project — cloud BI tools allow you to conduct Proof-of-Concepts with your own data and just a few plug-and-play BI tools. Looking for predictive capabilities? Buy an app. Need an ETL tool for data migration? Just plug it into your existing CRM.  From data enrichment to report creation and data visualization, third-party apps and tools will allow you to empower your teams with self-service BI tools now. What You Can Do Now  While data democratization may seem like a tall order, it will be a key differentiator for organizations moving forward. When you begin to plan how your organization will make data more accessible, consider how the following criteria could (and should) come into play: How data-driven decisions will become the norm for end users and their processes. Data should be so abundant across your organization that consumption is easy and automatic. Think specifically about how BI tools can revamp mobile, embedded analytics, rich visualizations, and data-driven workflow integration for your company. How end users will be able to directly influence how data is presented and consumed. If it’s easy for them, they’ll adopt the tools. If not, your organization will most likely struggle with poor adoption. How your data visualizations are aligned to key business outcomes. BI tools today are so powerful that they’re able to make large data sets immaterial. Only the most relevant information is served up at a given juncture in the workflow process, despite capturing every meaningful customer touchpoint, relevant structured or unstructured attribute, or new data source like IoT. Invest in the “art” of dashboarding to serve up key metrics that address issues and prompt a next step. How your business will be enabled with self-service data preparation, data enrichment, and data integration capabilities. Keep in mind, there will be a learning curve. Considering who the users are and what they want out of BI, then developing training for them, will improve adoption. IT and the business need to develop partnerships to make this new co-mingling of capabilities run more smoothly. Business needs to look to IT for insights surrounding data governance and security, while IT needs to be more involved in the business’s strategic goals and understand users need for data visibility. The path toward data democratization can be disruptive, and for many there may be a turbulent road ahead, but the impact it will have on business outcomes like revenue growth, efficiency, and customer retention will be well worth the investment. To learn about the risks of bad data — and what your business stands to gain by investing in good data — download Bluewolf's special report How the Best IT Professionals Use Salesforce.

Bluewolf, an IBM Company, is a global consulting agency and proven Salesforce strategic partner that builds digital solutions designed to create results. Now.